If you’re looking to get fit, running is a good place to start. It’s free, convenient, can boost your mood and may reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But there are some Dos and Don’ts to take into account before you start a running regime for the first time. Check them out below.
DO invest in a proper pair of running shoes. Visit a running shop and ask which trainers will work best for your feet and running style. Good foot support will support your knees, keep you comfortable and reduce your risk of injury.
DO set yourself goals. Watch your running progress by measuring your time, distance or speed. Whenever your motivation is flagging, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve improved.
DO vary your training. To be a good runner, it’s not just all about the running itself. Try to include strength training, gym classes and yoga in your fitness routine to ensure a balanced body and mind.
DO push yourself. Don’t be put off seeing what your body can achieve. Figure out when and where you're going to run and put it in your diary. Try running faster at times or harder by doing hill reps to maximise your fitness gains.
DO hydrate and fuel yourself regularly. Not just before and after your runs, but throughout each day, every day. Fuelling your body with the right food and drink will help you burn calories more efficiently when you run and this will improve your stamina.
DO invest in a good-quality running kit. Make sure your kit is suitable for each season and you have somewhere to carry your keys, money or phone. If it’s dark, wear white or, better still, reflective clothing. If it’s cold, wear several layers, gloves or mittens and a woollen ski hat to retain heat. Sunblock, sunglasses, a cap and white clothing make sense on hot days.
DON’T begin a running programme until you’ve had a full medical check-up. This is important especially if you’re over 40, have been seriously ill in the past year or have any chronic health problems.
DON’T overdo it. Your body needs to adapt to your new training load, so start slowly. Increase your mileage gradually, by no more than 10 percent each week.
DON’T get into bad habits. Keep your running fresh by exploring new routes regularly. It will help to prevent boredom and getting overuse injuries.
DON’T forget to stretch regularly. Dedicate 10 to 20 minutes at least once a week to stretching/foam rolling. You may not feel the benefit at the time, but over the course of weeks, months and years these stretching sessions can reduce muscle tightness and keep you flexible.
DON’T get carried away. Running two to three times a week should improve your fitness but make sure you also get enough rest and recovery. Aiming to run too frequently can be difficult to accommodate and will only leave you frustrated if it doesn’t happen.
DON’T run through pain. Listen to your body. If you don’t feel 100 percent or think there’s a reason why you shouldn’t run, then don’t. It’s better to wait until you’re fully fit than to drag yourself out half-heartedly. Get advice from a professional who can help put your mind at rest or put you on the path to recovery.